Menopause is not the end of the world. It marks the beginning of a new era in a woman’s life. Menopause is the start of self-care, self-nurturing, and self-fulfilment.
Menopause is the physiologic transition when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, ovarian function decreases, and menstrual periods stop. Although some women go through the menopausal transition without symptoms, many have hot flashes or genital tract symptoms, such as vulvar or vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and urinary problems.
Menopause is a normal part of ageing and every woman goes through it. It can't be prevented and usually doesn't require treatment. However, some symptoms of menopause can be lessened or perhaps even eliminated with treatment. Likewise, the risk of disorders or diseases associated with menopause, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, may benefit from treatment. The loss of oestrogen may also be related to changes in cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of menopause
Every woman experiences menopause differently, but symptoms may include:
Menstrual cycle changes —Monthly periods may become either less frequent or more frequent in the lead up to menopause (perimenopause).
Hot flushes or night sweats — a sudden feeling of warmth in the neck and chest with changes to heart rate and tiredness.
Problems sleeping (insomnia) and/or lower energy levels.
Muscle or joint pain.
Vaginal and urinary symptoms — as the vaginal lining becomes thinner and dryer, discomfort during sex and/or the need to urinate more often can be experienced.
Mood changes — feel of anxious, upset, sad or angry in more situations.
Menopause symptoms often emerge before the periods stop. Symptoms may be more severe if menopause is caused by surgery or cancer treatment. Women from different cultures may also experience symptoms differently. For example, hot flushes and night sweats are more common in women from Western cultures, while Asian women report more aches and pains, insomnia and mood changes.
Causes of menopause
Menopause occurs naturally when a woman’s ovaries no longer have any eggs to release, and its symptoms are caused by a drop in the levels of the hormone oestrogen. In natural menopause, hormone levels can swing from high to low as the body transitions (perimenopause).
Early (or premature) menopause can occur due to:
medical treatments that stop ovaries from functioning, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer
surgery to remove a woman’s ovaries (oophorectomy) to prevent or treat ovarian cancer or breast cancer
surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) in some cases
primary ovarian insufficiency due to certain genetic, autoimmune, or metabolic conditions
Diagnosis of menopause.
There is no specific test to diagnose menopause. This is based on the frequency of periods and the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Medical advice is necessary when the patient experiences irregular cycles, heavy or abnormal bleeding or symptoms that interfere the routine life.
Treatment of menopause
Most women can manage mild menopause symptoms without any medication. If symptoms get worsened, then the patient must consult the doctor.
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), or hormone replacement therapy, involves replacing your hormones (oestrogen and progesterone, and sometimes testosterone) to relieve menopausal symptoms. It is an effective treatment for hot flushes, sweat, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, joint aches and vaginal dryness.
There are a variety of options available to help treat the symptoms of menopause.
Treatment for Osteoporosis and Bone Loss Related to Menopause
Eat a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that features lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.
Make sure to get at least 1,200 mg of calcium and 800–1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D each day.
Avoid drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day.
Avoid consuming caffeine.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise most days of the week, including exercise that elevates your heart rate, and weight-bearing exercises such as weightlifting or walking.
Treatment of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Sleep in a cool room in light clothing.
Sip a cold drink of water or juice.
Avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcohol.
When you feel a hot flash coming on, take several slow, deep breaths.
Treatment of Irregular or Missed Periods
While irregular or missed periods are normal during perimenopause or the menopausal transition, women with very heavy bleeding or periods close together may want to talk to a healthcare provider about regulating their periods with low-dose birth control pills to regulate menstrual bleeding or other treatments
Treatment of Vaginal Dryness
· Use of a water-based lubricant.
Treatment of Sleep Problems
Be physically active most days of the week during the day.
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Set aside time to wind down and relax before bed, whether by reading or taking a warm bath.
Avoid alcohol or eating a large meal right before bedtime.
Avoid caffeine after the morning.
Avoid drinking fluids before bed.
Living with menopause
Lifestyle changes to help ease the symptoms of menopause include:
avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods to help reduce hot flushes
dressing in layers that you can easily remove if you’re feeling hot
regular exercise, since this will help with feelings of low mood.
When you understand what's going on in your body, you'll have a far better understanding of how to answer the question, "Who do you want to be in the second half of your life?" Someone bright and alive, full of health and vigor, who can fearlessly walk into her life to discover what awaits her... beyond parenting or caretaking... beyond being a wife or partner... beyond the confines of those previous years?